Photo credit: Tom Brenner/Reuters
By Jakob Stein
In the eight days since Joe Biden was sworn in as US president, he has signed at least 44 executive actions, mostly executive orders as well as proclamations and memorandums, that have been hailed by many supporters of the Democratic Party as important progress. In his executive orders, Biden reversed many of Trump’s previous orders on immigration, included several actions on ‘racial justice,’ expanded measures related to the economic crisis and the COVID pandemic, and repealed an order banning transgender people from the military.
These executive orders, along with his choice of Kamala Harris as his vice president, are all meant to give a progressive façade to US imperialism and spruce up its image in the midst of the deepening economic crisis as well as ongoing crisis of parliamentary democracy. The May Uprisings showed in no uncertain terms that the masses have lost faith in liberal democracy, but the electoral cretins did everything in their power to channel this rebellion into elections, and now Biden is attempting to complete this process by giving the illusion that he is making good on his campaign promises and that he is bringing some sort of ‘change.’
In essence, Biden is only trying to restore faith and allegiance to US imperialism, which is becoming more and more decrepit every day. US imperialism, as the sole hegemonic superpower, is in crisis—Obama’s, Trump’s, and Biden’s elections were all responses to this. It must constantly take actions to shore up support, in some instances appealing to the progressive sectors, while in others to the most reactionary sections of the US population. The imperialists use the constant tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans to keep the people invested in polarizing figures who make each side feel as though they have the ability to ‘save American democracy,’ while in reality the essence of US imperialism remains unchanged.
The repeal of the ban on transgender people joining the military is the most blatant example of this. As the armed wing of US imperialism, the military is the most openly violent and reactionary institution in the world, and by promoting itself as ‘inclusive,’ it can deflect from the horrors it commits around the world. Similar to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, as well as Israel’s self-promotion for having women and gays in the IDF, these actions are nothing but a facelift to rehabilitate the image of imperialism—a hollow PR stunt to justify terrorizing the world.
Aside from trying to justify US imperialism, Biden’s actions also fit into a larger pattern of increasing reliance on executive orders from US presidents. From Bill Clinton to Trump, there is an increasing practice of US presidents using executive orders to override the supposed ‘checks and balances’ of the federal system. This fits into a pattern of increasing concentration of power in the executive branch—a response to the deepening crisis of imperialism and, by extension, liberal democracy. Obama’s reliance on executive orders set the stage for Trump’s use of them to set reactionary policies, especially on immigration—likewise, Biden’s excessive use of them only further cements this standard for the next president.
Due to the fact that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, decaying ever more as time goes on and constantly seeking ways to become more parasitic to counteract this, each administration is more reactionary than its predecessor. Despite the fact that Biden is trying to paint himself as some sort of progressive savior, as time goes on and the crisis deepens, he will show his true face just as Obama did, through imperialist aggression, economic practices meant to dominate the poorest countries, and inter-imperialist competition with China and Russia. US imperialism can only move in one direction by necessity, so regardless of any successive president’s expressed aims or progressive rhetoric, or which identities they let into the imperialist clubhouse, they are bound by this necessity to pursue ever more aggressive and reactionary policies to keep it from total collapse.
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